Well RHU, my retail heyday entered Hoarders and ended there; murdered viciously by four years of Crustys. Here is the first horrible murder: When I entered this job, my experience with old people revolved around my grandparents. So of course, going into this job, my overall impression was that old people were sweet, loving grandparent type folks who dote on younger folk.
Obviously you need to be nice to them first, and show them that momma raised you to be a good granddaughter/grandson. But that was easy because in my limited experience, they would be nice anyway.
Wrong. Old people can indeed be assholes.
A cranky old lady comes to the register with her purchase. She's wearing dumpy, old, gray clothes, and her dark gray hair looks like an afro that got brushed in the general direction of the floor.
Me: Hi, welcome to Hoarders! Did you find everything you need today?
Cranky Old Lady: No.
Me: Oh, I'm so sorry. I can look something up and order it for you if you'd-
Cranky Old Lady: Don't bother! It's too late to made me happy today!
Me: Uhm... okay...
I ring her purchase up, total it up, glance at the screen for her total, and she throws a fit.
Cranky Old Lady: You kids are spoiled today! And stupid! You can't figure out the total because you have all those fancy calculators and computers to do all the math for you. In my day, you LEARNED to do the math in your head! And if you couldn't do it, then you didn't get a good job!
Now I'm taken aback. As a slave to the bookstores, I am an excellent reader and can read a novel in either less than a day, or in a day and a half depending on the length and distractions that come up. When I read, it spins out like a movie playing in my head; nearly paced like one too. I can read dialogue as easily and smoothly as if someone were saying the words out loud. I can flip the book upside down and read the words correctly... a bit more slowly, but I CAN still read it.
But, and this has been confirmed by a lot of personal experiences from many different people, those who read really well tend to struggle with math. And vise versa. Not that this bitch knows or cares that every human's brain is wired differently and has strengths in different areas.
I stare at her like a deer in the headlights. The total is on the little window that shows a custy what to write down in their checkbooks, and her hands have come down, pinning the books to the counter. I can't bag them, and I can't hurry her along.
Cranky Old Lady: Why, I bet you if the power goes off right now, you wouldn't be able to sell me anything because you wouldn't be able to do the math!
Cranky Old Lady: Well? Would you?
Three other customers are in line behind this ranting psycho, and they're staring at her with varying degrees of shock, disgust and disbelief.
Me: Well, no I couldn't sell you anything because...
Cranky Old Lady: Because you're a spoiled little girl used to letting the calculators do it for you!
My temper has finally met its end with this lady so I glare at her and snap.
Me: Actually, I couldn't sell anything to you because our system is electronic.
Cranky Old Lady: What?!
Me: Our system is electronic. Without any power, our registers won't work. We can't scan, we can't open the drawer, and we can't process credit cards. We also couldn't check to see if we even carried a book. Now ma'am, power HAS gone out at our location before. When that happens, we put books on hold for three days, and you could come back another day when the power is back on and make your purchase. Whether or not we can do the math in our heads, doesn't really matter since nothing could be done for you regardless.
Cranky Old Lady: *blinks at me stupidly*
Me: Now, your total is $__.__ and I would appreciate it if you would tell me whether or not you want a bag, and whether you will pay in cash or with a card.
Cranky Old Lady: *blows out an irritated breath but talks quieter* Yes bag. Cash.
She thrusts her money at me, and I complete her purchase.
Me: I hope your day turns out better.
Cranky Old Lady: I told you! It's too late for that!
This was of course, early afternoon. Lots of tings could have made her day better. But I guess I destroyed her one joy of the day; berating "stupid kids these days" and that was all she had to live for. I fantasize that the bright sunshine and beautiful weather struck her down the second she left the store and reduced her to ashes like a vampire.
I shake my head and call the next customer, trying to put on my friendly face again. Fortunately, since everyone had been hearing her bitching, none of them wanted to be "that customer." They were all incredibly nice to me, and I was able to get a handle on myself.
Some even muttered, "stupid" and "crazy old bat." and I was able to laugh and agree.
May all your customers be nice,